2022 F-List calls out top Australian agencies for climate polluters

The 2022 edition of the F-List, a global independent investigation into advertising, media, and PR agencies working with climate polluting partners has found 239 agencies globally working with fossil fuel companies, with this year’s edition coming with a focus on the agencies working with top local polluters.

The F-List is compiled by Clean Creatives and Comms Declare, with the latter also calculating the top agencies by partner companies, using Scope 1 and 2 emissions data in Australia.

Comms Declare lists Big Red as the top advertising agency by partner emissions, with 45,774,195 tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions through its clients BHP and AGL. While AGL is listed, the agency has only recently won the remit for the energy company, as reported earlier this month by Mumbrella.

It lists UM as the top media agency, also through its partnership with AGL (40,670,967), while GRACosway is the top PR/Lobbyist agency as per Comms Declare, with clients including Santos, BHP, and Glencore, totaling 20,612,667 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

UM provided the following statement to Mumbrella: “UM commits significant time, effort and resources to support its clients as they shape and guide their sustainable efforts for all Australians. As a company our environmental, social and governance programs are foundational to our vision and purpose.

“AGL has a very clear plan in place working with its stakeholders to shape a sustainable energy future for Australia. This includes a net zero emissions target date, the bringing forward of the closure of AGL’s coal operations, and the fact they have the largest renewables and storage portfolio of any ASX-listed company, having invested $4.8 billion over two decades in renewable and firming generation. As an agency, UM is committed to supporting that mission and is very proud of its work to help our clients futureproof themselves for a sustainable future.”

GRACosway said it was unable to comment at the time of publishing, while Big Red had not responded at the time of publishing.

Belinda Noble, founder of Comms Declare said: “Big Red won the big prize nobody wanted – AGL’s creative account and, combined with its work for BHP, its Scope 3 emissions now represent more than 10% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas pollution – on par with Libya’s annual emissions.”

“GRACosway is the most polluting lobbyist, with clients including Santos, Glencore and BHP, meaning its total Scope 3 emissions are around 5% of Australia’s, or about the same as Kenya’s.”

GRACosway is part of Clemenger Group, which is majority owned by Omnicom agency BBDO, as Noble further said the global holding group “somewhat hypocritically claims to be ‘actively working to harness our advertising power and influence to promote sustainable consumer choices and behaviours.'”

The report states that Glencore, being the world’s largest coal exporter has been referred to Australian regulators over its recent brand campaign, ‘Advancing everyday life’, where it states the company is “laying the foundations for a low carbon future”, featuring EVs, solar panels and wind turbines, however “doesn’t mention coal”.

Comms Declare also stated it “understands Bastion Creative is behind the campaign”.

The agency was approached by Mumbrella for comment, with Bastion group CEO Jack Watts providing the following statement: “While confidentiality prevents us from speaking about individual clients and client work, every industry that contributes to the community in ways that shape our economy, our lives, and the environment, need to be part of an active conversation with the community and with governments about the future of the climate and are also part of solving that problem, together. We work actively with our clients to ensure they are engaging in open discussions with the people who matter most to them. Our clients span government, sport, education, retail, health, energy, resources, community and NFP, fashion, property, manufacturing, and automotive, and our role is to help them tell their story in ways that build deeper understanding and greater connection with the people who matter most to them.”

Two months ago, a Guardian article reported that Glencore’s Australian marketing “blitz” around the ‘Advancing everyday life’ campaign failed to mention its thermal coal mining, which netted the company USD$10.9 billion in the last two years.

“Curiously, while the advertising mentions Glencore’s 24 Australian mines, it doesn’t say that about two-thirds of them are coalmines.”

It is understood that Comms Declare, alongside Lock the Gate Alliance, the Environmental Defenders Office, and the Plains Clans of the Wonnarua people, have put forward complaints to Ad Standards, as well as the ACCC and ASIC over the campaign, and its claims over climate goals.

An Ad Standards spokesperson told Mumbrella: “Complaints have been received by Ad Standards about various executions of the Glencore ‘advancing everyday life’ campaign. The complaints were lodged by the Environmental Defenders Office.

“Two of the advertisements have been assessed as raising issues under the Environmental Claims Code and will be put forward to the Ad Standards Community Panel for assessment later this month.”

Belinda Noble of Comms Declare

Glencore was contacted for comment regarding the TV campaign, which Comms Declare added has been backed by $100,000 in digital spend. The report states Glencore has also engaged Australian agencies Brother & Co, Wahoo, Adoni Media, and Campaign Edge Sprout.

Noble added: “At least nine Australian advertising and PR agencies are helping coal giant Glencore portray itself as part of a clean energy future while the company is actually expanding coal operations. Agency executives need to wake up and realise they are actively helping the corporations creating global warming, which is generating unprecedented disasters around the globe.”

Duncan Meisel, executive director at Clean Creatives said on the report: “Advertising and PR companies have had decades of warnings that their relationships with fossil fuel companies are harming their reputation and their clean clients. Until now, executives have chosen to ignore those warnings, with serious consequences for the planet, and their ability to attract and retain young talent. Over 400 agencies have pledged not to work with fossil fuels because working with polluters is bad for business, and bad for the planet.”

Comms Declare has recently called for a ban on fossil fuel advertising in Australia, and stated it has “inspired two Australian agencies, TBWA Sustain and CHEP to decline to re-pitch for large fossil fuel accounts”.

CHEP Network, also part of Clemenger Group, was the incumbent creative agency for AGL at the beginning of its recent pitch, however, opted to pull out of the process which eventually saw the brand appoint Big Red.

This year, following campaigning from Comms Declare, both the Yarra City council, and the City of Sydney have started to look at plans to ban fossil fuel advertising.

The full F-List report documents all the global agencies working with fossil fuel clients.








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